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Retirement utopia

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER MAKING A MOVE TO THE LOWCOUNTRY

It had been almost two decades since the year-to-year retirement rate rose in the U.S. That changed in 2020, as the pandemic made families rethink priorities and decide that they’ll make the finances work to get on with their next exciting chapter in life. Those decisions have led to a boom of population growth in the Lowcountry; between the sunshine, the ocean and the hospitality, this is the perfect setting to begin new adventures and exciting challenges. Here are just a few reasons why you need to make our utopia your home sooner than later.

 

STAY ACTIVE

The Lowcountry is a prime spot for golf and tennis, with active tennis leagues and more than 20 championship public courses in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. A PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage, attract the world’s best golfers to the island each spring.

We live in an area with beautiful biking trails. The island has 6 miles of bike lanes and 117 miles of shared-use pathways, with 14 miles of planned pathways, and 1 mile of single track stretching across the island. There’s not much better than getting on your bike and going for a fun and relaxing ride.

Tennis courts and public parks are sprinkled throughout the area. Local governments prioritize recreational resources to stay ahead of needs and trends, such as the growing popularity of pickleball.

The Lowcountry Pickleball Club and Hilton Head Island Pickleball Club offer plenty of social opportunities around the sport. A planned 24-court public pickleball complex is expected to come to the island soon.

Sun City Hilton Head residents have more than 100 clubs offered. The Island Rec Center has a calendar of senior-specific programs through its Hilton Head Senior Center (hiltonheadseniorcenter.org). Beaufort County Parks and Recreation offers sports and aquatic programs as well as resources for senior care (bcscrec.com).

Music and arts fans have many options to enjoy. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina (artshhi.org) has a schedule of concerts and shows, while venues like The Jazz Corner (thejazzcorner.com), The Roasting Room in Bluffton (roastingroom.live) and groups like the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra (hhso.org) help fuel a vibrant Lowcountry music scene. Foodies and shoppers have options, with Tanger Outlets in Bluffton and more than 200 on-island shops and boutiques on Hilton Head. The island’s 250-plus restaurants and a burgoening scene in downtown Bluffton offer an eclectic variety, including favorites such as she-crab soup and Frogmore stew.

ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

If you’re a beachgoer on Hilton Head, nationally renowned Coligny Beach is the most trafficked (and has a full array of shops and restaurants within walking distance). Burkes and Driessen beaches are lesser known but equally beautiful public beach options.

The Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island (coastaldiscovery.org) has 68 acres of nature trails open for walks and picnics. The seashell trail leads to Jarvis Creek, while the camellia garden boasts 120 different varieties of bloom and color.

The island’s Audubon Newhall Preserve (55 Palmetto Bay Road, 843- 785-5775) has 50 acres of plants and nature trails. In Bluffton check out the Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve (Sawmill Creek Road), ideal for bird watching and hiking. The Pinckney Island National Refuge is located between Hilton Head and Bluffton and includes more than 4,000 acres of salt marsh and maritime habitat. Fishing is allowed, or hike and bike the 14 miles of roads that wind through the island.

Local government’s commitment to nature and open spaces is stronger than ever, as witnessed by the new Lowcountry Celebration Park and the soon-to-be-built Mid-Island Park project on Hilton Head. Check out the Wright and Martin parks and the recently announced New Riverside parks plan in Bluffton.

PRIME LOCATION

If you need to get around once you get here, Palmetto Breeze offers an array of services seven days a week. The Breeze Trolley runs to island tourist destinations during the summer and the new Bluffton Breeze service makes more than 50 stops around town.

You want to get out on the water without buying a boat? The Freedom Boat Club and Carefree Boat Club operate on the island and a few charter companies will take you out on a May River excursion. Plus, there’s a ferry that will take you out to historic Daufuskie Island for a fabulous day trip.

Direct flights from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport include 27 destinations. The airport was recently named the nation’s No. 1 airport in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and served more than three million passengers in 2019.

Hilton Head Island Airport offers seasonal and full-year flights through Delta, United and American Airlines. Officials recently announced a 42,000-square feet expansion plan, more than tripling the current size of the terminal.

And if you’re a pilot or fortunate enough to travel via private jet, both Hilton Head and Beaufort Executive airports cater to the private air travel crowd.

CONTINUE TO LEARN

University of South Carolina Beaufort (uscb.edu) has campuses across Beaufort County and grants free tuition to full-time residents ages 60 and older not seeking a degree.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USCB (uscb.edu/lifelong_ learning/osher_lifelong_learning) offers an array of not-for-credit classes and programs.

Fall classes typically run $10-20 apiece, and the program offers a $125 unlimited option, allowing members to take as many classes as they like as well as full access to the school’s on-demand library.

The area offers volunteer opportunities, from animal shelters like the Hilton Head Humane Association (hhhumane.org) to any niche or passion you wish to serve. VolunteerMatch.org is a great place to start your volunteer journey.

ASSISTED LIVING AMENITIES

New facilities such as Canterfield and Vineyard Bluffton continue to pop up across the U.S. 278 corridor.

The Cypress of Hilton Head is one of the most acclaimed and coveted retirement communities in the U.S., with a thriving population and a staff that residents treat like family.

Websites such as A Place For Mom and Seniorly offer centralized information and a great starting point to explore the more than 50 assisted living facilities in the area.

Seniors no longer need to focus on traveling to Savannah for top-level care, with hospitals in Hardeeville and Hilton Head and large providers such as St. Joseph’s/Candler, Tenet/Hilton Head Regional and Beaufort Memorial Hospital building medical campuses in Bluffton.

PEACE OF MIND

The natural beauty of the May River and Atlantic Ocean create a seaside chill vibe that permeates through every facet of life.

Summers are hot and humid with temperatures routinely pushing 90 degrees.

Milder sun-drenched days are abound November through February, with temps a bit more unpredictable – think 80 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next. Forecasters predict warmer-than-average temperatures across the Southeast this winter.

The pace is slower and neighbors and strangers alike are friendlier and more welcoming. Welcome to Nirvana.